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BMJ. 2018 May 2;361:k1662. doi: 10.1136/bmj.k1662.

Education plus exercise versus corticosteroid injection use versus a wait and see approach on global outcome and pain from gluteal tendinopathy: prospective, single blinded, randomised clinical trial.

Author information

School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Queensland, QLD 4072, Australia.
Centre for Health, Exercise and Sports Medicine, Department of Physiotherapy, University of Melbourne, Carlton, VIC, Australia.
Tarragindi, QLD, Australia.
Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Alfred Centre, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.
National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), Centre of Clinical Research Excellence in Spinal Pain, Injury and Health, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Queensland, QLD, Australia.
Discipline of Physiotherapy, School of Allied Health, LaTrobe University, Bundoora, VIC, Australia.
School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Queensland, QLD 4072, Australia



To compare the effects of a programme of load management education plus exercise, corticosteroid injection use, and no treatment on pain and global improvement in individuals with gluteal tendinopathy.


Prospective, three arm, single blinded, randomised clinical trial.


Brisbane and Melbourne, Australia.


Individuals aged 35-70 years, with lateral hip pain for more than three months, at least 4/10 on the pain numerical rating scale, and gluteal tendinopathy confirmed by clinical diagnosis and magnetic resonance imaging; and with no corticosteroid injection use in previous 12 months, current physiotherapy, total hip replacement, or neurological conditions.


A physiotherapy led education and exercise programme of 14 sessions over eight weeks (EDX; n=69), one corticosteroid injection (CSI; n=66), and a wait and see approach (WS; n=69).


Primary outcomes were patient reported global rating of change in hip condition (on an 11 point scale, dichotomised to success and non-success) and pain intensity in the past week (0=no pain, 10=worst pain) at eight weeks, with longer term follow-up at 52 weeks.


Of 204 randomised participants (including 167 women; mean age 54.8 years (standard deviation 8.8)), 189 (92.6%) completed 52 week follow-up. Success on the global rating of change was reported at eight weeks by 51/66 EDX, 38/65 CSI, and 20/68 WS participants. EDX and CSI had better global improvement scores than WS (risk difference 49.1% (95% confidence interval 34.6% to 63.5%), number needed to treat 2.0 (95% confidence interval 1.6 to 2.9); 29.2% (13.2% to 45.2%), 3.4 (2.2 to 7.6); respectively). EDX had better global improvement scores than CSI (19.9% (4.7% to 35.0%); 5.0 (2.9 to 21.1)). At eight weeks, reported pain on the numerical rating scale was mean score 1.5 (standard deviation 1.5) for EDX, 2.7 (2.4) for CSI, and 3.8 (2.0) for WS. EDX and CSI participants reported less pain than WS (mean difference -2.2 (95% confidence interval -2.89 to -1.54); -1.2 (-1.85 to -0.50); respectively), and EDX participants reported less pain than CSI (-1.04 (-1.72 to -0.37)). Success on the global rating of change was reported at 52 weeks by 51/65 EDX, 36/63 CSI, and 31/60 WS participants; EDX was better than CSI (20.4% (4.9% to 35.9%); 4.9 (2.8 to 20.6)) and WS (26.8% (11.3% to 42.3%); 3.7 (2.4 to 8.8)). Reported pain at 52 weeks was 2.1 (2.2) for EDX, 2.3 (1.9) for CSI, and 3.2 (2.6) for WS; EDX did not differ from CSI (-0.26 (-1.06 to 0.55)), but both treatments did better than WS (1.13 (-1.93 to -0.33); 0.87 (-1.68 to -0.07); respectively).


For gluteal tendinopathy, education plus exercise and corticosteroid injection use resulted in higher rates of patient reported global improvement and lower pain intensity than no treatment at eight weeks. Education plus exercise performed better than corticosteroid injection use. At 52 week follow-up, education plus exercise led to better global improvement than corticosteroid injection use, but no difference in pain intensity. These results support EDX as an effective management approach for gluteal tendinopathy.


Prospectively registered at the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ACTRN12612001126808).

Conflict of interest statement

Competing interests: All authors have completed the ICMJE uniform disclosure form at and declare: support from the NHMRC for the submitted work; no financial relationships with any organisations that might have an interest in the submitted work; no other relationships or activities that could appear to have influenced the submitted work.

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